"? 'VERITY OF
UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS 'JLTURF I
• Nutrient requirements
• Balancing rations
• Protein supplements
• Suggested rations
COOPERATIVE EXTENSION SERVICE COLLEGE OF AGRICULTURE
UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS AT URBANA-CHAMPAIGN CIRCULAR 1025
NUTRIENTS REQUIRED BY BEEF CATTLE 1
Energy and Feed Consumption 2
RATION CONSIDERATIONS 7
Balancing Rations 7
Protein Supplements 9
Roughage Replacers 11
Finishing Rations 11
Starting Cattle on Feed 11
Grain Processing 12
SUGGESTED RATIONS FOR FEEDER CATTLE 13
Rations for Growing or Wintering Steer Calves To
Get Them Ready for the Finishing Lot 13
Rations for Growing or Wintering Heifer Calves To
Get Them Ready for the Finishing Lot 13
Finishing Rations for Various Classes of Beef Cattle 14
Handling Feeder Cattle on Pasture 15
SUGGESTED RATIONS FOR THE BREEDING HERD 15
Standard Wintering Rations for Beef Cows 15
Standard Wintering Rations for Beef Bulls 16
Alternate Wintering Rations for Beef Cows 16
FEED REQUIRED PER HEAD 17
NUTRIENT REQUIREMENTS 18
Publication prepared by Livestock Extension Specialists
B. A. Weichenthal H. G. Russell
This publication provides feeding recommendations and suggested
rations for beef cattle based on recent research at several agricul-
tural experiment stations. These suggestions are only guidelines, be-
cause variation in animal response can result from differences in breed,
age, health, and condition of animals or from differences in climate,
feed quality, or method of feeding.
NUTRIENTS REQUIRED BY BEEF CATTLE
Beef cattle require water, energy, protein, minerals, and vitamins.
w Rations should be balanced for a particular purpose, so that no one
nutrient becomes a limiting factor in the animal's production or growth.
The amount of water cattle require depends on the kind of feed they
receive, the amount of water in the feed, and the climate.
Water makes up more than 60 percent of the body composition of
a 700-pound steer and more than 50 percent of a 1,000-pound steer.
The functions of water are: (1) to dissolve nutrients and to move them
in the blood stream; (2) to aid in removing body wastes; and (3) to
control body temperature through evaporation at the skin surface as
well as through the lungs. Animals can get along without food longer
than they can without water. A limited water intake can reduce appe-
tite and feedlot performance.
The amount of water consumed increases rapidly as the air temper-
ature increases, as shown by the chart below.
BY CATTLE FULL
FED IN DRYLOT
Energy and Feed Consumption
The chief source of energy in animal feeds is carbohydrates. They
form about 75 percent of all the dry matter in plants. In the usual
chemical analysis of feeds, carbohydrates are divided into nitrogen-
free extract (NFE) and fiber. NFE, the more soluble part, includes
sugars, starches, organic acids (like lactic and acetic acid, present in
silage), and the most soluble portions of other more complex carbohy-
drates. Fiber includes the less soluble carbohydrates, such as cellulose
and lignin. Fats furnish 2.25 times as much energy as do carbohy-
drates. Natural plant protein sources, besides furnishing nitrogenous
compounds, also supply energy.
The approximate energy value of a feed is described as total diges-
tible nutrients (TDN) ; the energy requirements of beef cattle are
generally expressed as TDN. The TDN of a feed is the sum of all of
the digestible organic nutrients — including NFE, fiber, protein, and
fat (X 2.25).
While the TDN system has been used for many years, it has been
criticized because it does not distinguish between energy needs for
maintenance and for production, and because TDN from roughage does
not have the same energy value as TDN from grain.
Attempts have been made to develop a more precise system of eval-
uating feedstuffs for energy. In recent years the "California" net
energy system has been used in some of the larger feedlots. The net
energy system is more sensitive to factors such as differences in cattle,
climate, and feed quality. It involves a prediction of rate of gain from
the types and quantities of feeds fed or conversely the amounts of feed
or ration needed to produce a certain rate of gain. Feeds are evaluated
separately on their value for maintenance and for production.
The TDN system is accurate enough to be used as a guide for
practical feeding programs. The TDN level of a maintenance ration
or of a growing ration should be adjusted according to the condition
of the animals. The TDN level of a finishing ration is dependent upon
the concentrate-to-roughage ratio chosen by the feeder.
Proper energy levels and energy utilization are important to the
success of the cattle feeder, for energy represents 85 to 90 percent of
the nutrients needed by beef cattle.
Both condition (degree of finish) and age affect the feed capacity
of cattle. There also seems to be a considerable variation between cat-
tle of the same condition and age. However, cattle on finishing rations
will consume approximately 2.5 to 3 percent of their liveweight in air-
dry feed daily — including grain, protein supplement, and roughage.
A minimum full feed of grain is considered to be more than 1.5 pounds
daily per 100 pounds of liveweight, including the grain in corn silage.
If roughage is available, maximum gain should be obtained with not
more than about 2 pounds of grain daily per hundredweight.
Protein is a primary component of animal bodies, making up a large
part of the muscles, internal organs, cartilage, connective tissue, skin,
and hair. All natural feedstuffs contain some protein because protein
is a constituent of cell walls and components in plants just as it is in
animals. Proteins are made up of nitrogenous compounds called amino
acids, and ruminant animals have a unique way of converting plant
protein or nonprotein nitrogen plus energy into animal protein. Mi-
crobes in the rumen attack plant protein and break most of it down into
simple compounds before this material is incorporated into their own
bacterial bodies. Similarly, the bacteria can use simple compounds like
urea to build protein as long as a source of energy is available.
Protein quality (balance of amino acids) is therefore not as impor-
tant for ruminants as it is for simple-stomached animals. However,
recent research at the University of Illinois indicates that the balance
of amino acids actually absorbed by ruminants can be improved if
rumen microbial activity on protein is bypassed. Early work with
specially treated soybean meal showed increased rate of gain in cattle
and lambs. The purpose was to prevent the "bugs" from breaking down
the soybean protein in the rumen, allowing protein digestion in the
abomasum (true stomach) to occur in a manner similar to that in
simple-stomached animals. More research will be needed before this
discovery can be applied, but this does represent a potential increase in
Natural feedstuffs like grains, pasture forage, silages, and cured
roughages as well as many byproducts such as soybean meal supply
protein. The digestibility of protein is quite low in poor-quality rough-
ages such as cobs, straw, corn stover, or cottonseed hulls. The differ-
ences in protein digestibility in some common feeds are shown below:
Corn 77% Soybean meal. . . 92% Alfalfa hay 71%
Oats 78% Cottonseed meal 80% Red clover hay . . 60%
Wheat 84% Linseed meal. . . . 84% Corn silage 55%
Barley 79% Ground cobs. .. . 0% Alfalfa silage. .. . 65%
Milo 78% Cottonseed hulls 0% Legume pasture 70%
The requirement for crude protein ranges from 10 percent of the
air-dry ration for finishing yearling and 2-year-old cattle to 1 1 percent
crude protein for calves. However, recent research at the University
of Illinois suggests that fast-growing calves may need 13 percent or
more crude protein if they are fed a high-energy ration. A general
practice has been to provide at least 1 1 percent crude protein in growing
rations for calves or finishing rations for yearlings. The crude protein
requirement can also be expressed as pounds needed per head per day.
You will need to make some conversions for silage and haylage in
estimating the pounds of air-dry feed eaten daily. A fairly accurate
estimate is to assume that it takes 1.5 pounds of 40-percent moisture
haylage or 3 pounds of 70-percent moisture silage to equal the dry mat-
ter in 1 pound of hay.
In cases of extreme variations in moisture content, calculate the
actual amount of dry matter and divide by 0.90 to convert to a 90-
percent dry matter basis.
Example: Convert 18 pounds of 55-percent moisture corn silage to pounds
of 90-percent dry matter feed. Dry matter is 100 — 55 or 45 percent.
Multiplying 0.45 by 18 = 8.1; dividing 8.1 by 0.90 = 9 pounds of 90-
percent dry matter feed.
Urea. Urea is a nitrogen-rich synthetic compound manufactured
by using nitrogen from the air. It contains 45 percent nitrogen, while
natural protein has 16 percent nitrogen. Since the ratio of nitrogen to
total crude protein is 1 to 6.25, we can multiply the nitrogen in urea
by 6.25 to get a protein equivalent value for urea of 281 percent. To
calculate the protein equivalent furnished by urea (45 percent nitrogen)
in a supplement, multiply the percent of urea by 2.81. To determine the
amount of urea in 100 pounds of supplement, divide the percent of
crude protein equivalent furnished by the urea by 2.81.
Urea does not furnish energy as do the natural proteins such as
soybean meal. Approximately 1 pound of urea and 6 pounds of corn
will replace the protein and energy supplied by 7 pounds of soybean
When cattle are given urea for the first time, an adjustment period
of about two weeks is required before the rumen microbial population
can make the most effective use of the urea. Calves may need a longer
adjustment period than yearlings, and experiments with calves have
often shown slightly lower weight gains when all-urea supplements
were used rather than those containing some plant protein.
The low cost of nitrogen in urea has encouraged its use in finishing
rations. Urea is most effectively used when fed with a readily available
source of energy such as grain or molasses. For cattle fed high-grain
finishing rations, the supplemental protein needed usually represents
less than a third of the total crude protein in the ration, and a general
rule has been that urea could supply up to a third of the total crude
protein in the ration. The following facts are important to remember
when urea is used:
• Urea hydrolizes quickly, releasing ammonia which could flood the
system if urea is fed in large quantities. Ammonia released rapidly
in large quantities in the rumen is toxic to the animal.
• Thorough blending or mixing of the urea supplement in the grain
mixture or (preferably) in the complete diet is vital in controlling
the amount available to one animal. If this is done, there is no dan-
ger of ammonia toxicity even if feed intake is relatively high.
• Cattle on a full feed, either on a self-feeder or with grain before them
almost continuously in the bunk, should make the most efficient use
of urea. This permits more frequent intake and tends to supply a
more constant amount of ammonia in the rumen.
• Since urea furnishes nitrogen only, rations need to be accurately for-
mulated. There may be need for additional mineral and vitamin
Various high-urea supplements have been formulated, but in recent
Illinois tests simple supplementation programs involving urea, trace-
mineralized salt, and calcium-phosphorus sources have been adequate
for finishing yearling cattle. Feedlot performance was not improved
when urea-containing rations were supplemented with dehydrated al-
falfa meal, sulfur, or vitamin E. However, the sulfur level in some
rations may be borderline or deficient for effective urea utilization, and
the ratio of nitrogen to sulfur in the ration should be between 12:1 and
Calcium, phosphorus, and salt are the minerals normally added to
beef cattle rations or offered free choice.
A calcium deficiency is most likely to occur in cattle on a high-con-
centrate ration, a phosphorous deficiency on a high-roughage ration.
As a rule of thumb, the total ration, on an air-dry basis, should contain
about 0.5 percent salt and 0.3 percent each of calcium and of phos-
phorus. Trace-minerals are not usually deficient in Illinois beef ra-
tions, but be alert for situations or areas where deficiencies have
occurred. Use trace-mineralized (TM) salt to support adequate trace-
Equal parts, by weight, of dicalcium phosphate and trace-mineral-
ized salt make a good home-mixed mineral mixture containing approxi-
mately 12 percent calcium, 9 percent phosphorus, and 50 percent trace-
mineralized salt. The high phosphorus content makes the mixture
especially suitable for high-roughage rations.
Equal parts, by weight, of dicalcium phosphate, finely ground lime-
stone, and trace-mineralized salt will make a general-purpose simple
mineral mixture containing approximately 20 percent calcium, 6 per-
cent phosphorus, and 33 percent salt. The higher calcium content makes
it more suitable for use with high-concentrate rations.
Minerals may be fed free-choice or mixed into a complete ration.
Feed trace-mineralized salt and a simple mineral mixture, each free-
choice, regardless of ration composition. Cattle will eat little of a sim-
ple mineral mixture if the ration mineral fortification is adequate.
Vitamins are broadly classified into two groups, the fat-soluble (A,
D, E, and K) and the water-soluble, or B-complex vitamins.
Vitamin D is synthesized in the skin of animals in direct sunlight
and is available in sun-cured hay. Cattle in confinement may need
additional vitamin D.
The rumen organisms can synthesize vitamin K.
At present, no consistent benefit has been reported from supple-
mental vitamin E.
Vitamin A is of major, practical significance in beef cattle feeding.
Vitamin A deficiencies appear in feedlot cattle receiving rations that
we formerly thought contained adequate amounts of carotene. Caro-
tene is the precursor of vitamin A, converted into A in the paunch.
Carotene is found in abundance in pasture and green roughages, as well
as in yellow corn.
We recommend adding the following minimum amounts (Inter-
national Units) of true vitamin A per head daily to the rations of
Cattle wintered on corn silage 10,000 I.U.
Cattle full-fed during the winter 20,000 IJJ.
Cattle full-fed grain on pasture 20,000 I.U.
Cattle fed in drylot in the summer 30,000 I.U.
Cattle being pastured with no grain, or wintered on rations that are
mostly hay or legume silage No extra vitamin A
Recommended amounts to add to a ton of supplement are given
in Table 1.
Table 1. — Recommended Amounts of True Vitamin A
To Be Added per Ton of Supplement
Addition per ton Addition per ton
when supplement when supplement
is fed at the is fed at the
rate of 1 pound rate of 2 pounds
per head per day per head per day
Cattle wintered on corn silage 20,000,000 10,000,000
Cattle full-fed during the winter 40,000,000 20,000,000
Cattle full-fed grain on pasture 40,000,000 20,000,000
Cattle fed in drylot in the summer 60,000,000 30,000,000
Research has indicated that the microorganisms in the paunch of
mature cattle are capable of producing B-complex vitamins, generally
in excess of the requirements. Materials such as yeast which are high
in B-vitamins appear to be of little value in feedlot rations. B-vitamins
may be needed by the very young calf before rumen fermentation is
established or by starved or severely stressed cattle in which the rumen
microbial activity has ceased.
The National Research Council publishes the nutrient requirements
of beef cattle on the basis of available research data. These require-
ments are believed to be adequate under most conditions for normal
health, growth, finishing, and reproduction. However, in practice, they
are often exceeded slightly to account for variation in feed quality and
individual animal needs.
The daily nutrient requirements of beef cattle can be determined
from the National Research Council Tables 7 and 8 on pages 18 and 19.
To illustrate the use of the tables, refer to line 8, Table 7. It gives the
requirements for growing a 441-pound steer calf to gain 1.65 pounds
a day. Pounds of dry matter required per animal each day are given
as dry matter, completely free of moisture. Protein, TDN, calcium,
and phosphorus requirements are given as pounds per head per day.
A normal daily ration for this calf might well be 30 pounds of corn
silage, 1 pound of soybean meal, and 2 pounds of alfalfa hay. Using
the feed analysis table on page 20 (lines 15, 31, and 1), calculate the
total dry matter, protein, TDN, calcium, and phosphorus supplied by
this ration. The correct figures are 11.7 pounds of total dry matter,
1.49 pounds of protein, 8.08 pounds of TDN, 0.062 pound of calcium,
and 0.033 pound of phosphorus, as shown below:
dry Total Cat- Phos-
matter, protein, TDN, cium, phorus,
lb. lb. lb. lb. lb.
Daily requirements 11.00 1.23 7.70 .040 .031
Amount in ration
30 lb. corn silage 9.00 .72 6.30 .030 .021
1 lb. soybean meal 89 .46 .77 .003 .007
2 lb. alfalfa hay 1.81 .31 1.01 .029 .005
Totalinfeed 11.70 1.49 8.08 .062 .033
The table of requirements indicated a need for 11 pounds of total
dry matter, 1.23 pounds of protein, 7.70 pounds of TDN, 0.04 pound
of calcium, and 0.031 pound of phosphorus daily. Thus the ration is
adequate in these nutrients and should support the rate of gain specified
when these requirements are met.
The Pierson Square can be used to determine the proportion of two
feeds needed to provide a certain protein level in a mixture, as shown
in these examples.
Example 1: Soybean meal at 49 percent protein and corn at 9 percent
crude protein are mixed to provide an 11 percent crude protein mixture.
The diagonal differences determine the parts of each feed.
Soybean meal 49
2 parts of soybean meal
38 parts of corn
40 total parts
2 -r- 40 = 5 percent soybean meal
38 -^ 40 = 95 percent corn
Example 2: Urea at 281 percent crude protein equivalent and corn at 9
percent crude protein are mixed to provide an 11 percent crude protein
2 parts of urea
270 parts of corn
272 total parts
2 -r- 272 = 0.75 percent urea (15 pounds per ton of mixture)
270 -=- 272 = 99.25 percent corn
Protein supplements may contain a variety of ingredients, especially
if supplemental minerals and vitamins are to be included as well as
growth stimulants. The use of additives such as hormones and anti-
biotics is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, and a permit
is required before such ingredients can be mixed into feeds. Levels,
kinds, and combinations of hormones or antibiotics for use in finishing
rations should be those recommended by the manufacturer or feed
supplier and should meet any usage requirement of the Food and Drug
Simple formulas can be mixed on farms, although premixes supply-
ing vitamins, trace minerals, and additives can be obtained in some
areas. Growth-stimulating hormones can be implanted if they are not
supplied in the feed.
Supplement formulas provided by various universities may vary
slightly, but animal performance would probably be similar if crude
protein equivalent and additives are comparable. The formulas in
Tables 2 and 3 have been designed to meet the supplement needs of
Illinois rations while offering simplicity and convenience for home-
High-grain finishing rations need more supplemental calcium than
high-roughage growing rations. Antibiotics can be fed in high-grain
rations for control of liver abscesses; use of some roughage will help
— Supplements for High-Silage Rations
Percent crude protein
45 56 a 68 b
(pounds per ton)
Soybean meal (49% protein) 1 ,800 1 ,700 1 ,600
Urea (45% nitrogen) 100 200
Di-cal phosphate 100 100 100
Trace-mineralized salt 100 100 100
Vitamin A + + +
a About 25 percent of protein equivalent (14 out of the 56) supplied by urea.
b About 41 percent of protein equivalent (28 out of the 68) supplied by urea.
c See Table 1 for amounts of vitamin A.
Table 3. — Finishing Supplements
Percent crude protein
& 41 a 54 b 67° 60 d 80
(pounds per ton)
Soybean meal (49% protein) 1,000 1,000 1,000 1,300
Urea (45% nitrogen) 100 200 300 200 550
Ground corn 600 450 ... ... 695
Dried molasses ... 200 ... 200
Ground limestone 100 150 200 200 250
Di-cal phosphate 100 100 150 150 150
Trace-mineralized salt 100 100 150 150 150
Flowers of sulfur ... ... ... 5
Vitamin A e -f + + + +
a About 34 percent of protein equivalent (14 out of 41) supplied by urea.
b About 52 percent of protein equivalent (28 out of 54) supplied by urea.
c About 63 percent of protein equivalent (42 out of 67) supplied by urea.
d About 46 percent of protein equivalent (28 out of 60) supplied by urea.
control this problem. Higher levels of urea can be included in finishing
rations. In University of Nebraska tests, good overall results were
obtained from using a supplement with liberal amounts of soybean
meal for the first two to three weeks, followed by a switch to a high-
urea supplement. There is recent evidence in Illinois research that the
addition of some plant protein is required for maximum daily gains
on high-energy rations.
The formulas for finishing supplements given in Table 3 are de-
signed for mixing into complete rations. Note that combinations of
soybean meal and urea are offered as well as urea diluted with ground
corn. With proper mixing facilities single ingredients in the supple-
ments could be added to complete rations. The crude protein content
of these supplements would be reduced slightly if 44 percent soybean
meal is used.
In an effort to reduce roughage handling, several attempts have
been made to substitute inert materials which would stimulate the
rumen to function normally.
Oyster shells have been tried but have not shown any advantage
over all-concentrate rations.
Another material is a corrugated polyethylene pellet which is fed
in small amounts for six days after cattle are started on an all-grain
ration. The plastic supposedly remains in the rumen until slaughter
and is expected to provide the physical stimulation of the rumen nor-
mally provided by roughage. Successes with the feeding of whole
shelled corn suggest that roughage replacers may not be necessary. In
most cases, they have not reduced the amount of grain required per
unit of weight gain.
Research at the University of Illinois and at other stations indicates
that cattle receiving high-energy finishing rations utilize a roughage
component very poorly. In other words, the roughage replaces very
little if any grain in such rations although a small amount of roughage
(5 to 10 percent on an air-dry basis) will often keep the cattle healthier
and support a higher rate of gain.
The digestive climate of the rumen changes when grain replaces
roughage. Poor utilization of roughage in finishing rations might thus
be expected. All-grain rations involving dry shelled corn or rolled
high-moisture corn have been fed successfully although feedlot manage-
ment must be excellent to avoid founder and severe digestive distur-
bances. Cattle must be comfortable and near feed and water at all times.
When all the roughage is removed, the potassium level of the ration
may be borderline or deficient. The requirement for potassium in all-
grain rations has not been established but levels of 0.5 percent or more
have been suggested. Dry corn contains about 0.3 percent potassium,
and potassium as carbonate, chloride, or sulfate has been used to in-
crease ration levels of this mineral.
Starting Cattle on Feed
If cattle have been receiving some grain before being placed in the
finishing lot, their grain may be increased at the rate of 1/2 pound per
day until they reach a full feed. As cattle approach full feed, watch to
see that they do not overeat. Increases should be made then only if
cattle clean up their feed.
If cattle are not accustomed to grain, use the following schedule:
1. First day — Feed 1 to 3 pounds of grain and 5 pounds of hay or
silage equivalent. Mix grain and roughage.
2. Daily increase — Increase grain 1 pound per head daily until cattle
are receiving 1 pound per hundredweight. Make sure that all cattle
3. After the daily grain allowance reaches 1 percent of the bodyweight,
increase grain 1/2 pound per day for heavy feeders or 1/2 pound
every other day for light feeders if the feed is cleaned up.
4. Reduce roughage allowance, but give cattle all they will eat along
with the above concentrate allowances.
5. Add protein supplement as recommended in rations for various
classes of cattle.
6. Cattle will be on a full feed of grain when they are eating more than
1.5 percent of their weight in grain and supplement. However, they
will eat 2.0 to 2.5 percent of their weight if most of the roughage is
Recent tests by several universities and feed companies have shown
that rolling or grinding dry shelled corn has not improved rate of gain
or feed conversion for calves or yearlings. This appears to be true
whether roughage is fed or not. High-moisture shelled corn (24 to 30
percent moisture), however, is utilized more efficiently when it is
cracked or rolled, and some tests with heavy steers show a benefit from
rolling dry corn.
Although steam flaking of corn has been shown to improve feed
efficiency, the cost of the processing prohibits its use on all but high-
volume operations. New methods such as dry cooking or roasting
should be watched for possible benefits in smaller feedlots.
The feeding of high-moisture corn is popular in Illinois because it
allows earlier harvesting of corn and results in a very palatable feed
if it is handled and stored properly. In comparing high-moisture corn
with dry shelled corn, some tests have shown no difference in feed
efficiency while others have shown 5 to 10 percent improvement from
rolled high-moisture corn (24 to 30 percent moisture). Dry-matter in-
take with high-moisture corn is sometimes below that obtained with
dry corn, resulting in a slower rate of gain with the wet corn.
Dry corn can be reconstituted back to high-moisture grain by grind-
ing and adding water to obtain a feed similar in feeding qualities to
natural high-moisture corn. But recent successes with the feeding of
whole dry shelled corn make it questionable whether reconstitution is
necessary. Actually, any differences in feed efficiency between wet and
dry corn are probably outweighed by the choice of a corn harvesting
and storing system which is the most practical and convenient for a
given farm. High-moisture corn does not have to be stored in a gastight
facility if proper care is taken to grind and seal the corn and to feed
sufficient amounts to prevent surface spoilage at the opening. At many
of the larger feedlots in Illinois, the operators are now storing high-
moisture ground shelled corn in a trench or bunker silo with good
SUGGESTED RATIONS FOR FEEDER CATTLE
Rations for Growing or Wintering Steer Calves
To Get Them Ready for the Finishing Lot
Ration 1. Full-feed corn silage and add enough protein supple-
ment to bring the air-dry ration to 1 1 percent crude protein. For good-
quality corn silage at 65 percent moisture, 2 pounds of 40 percent pro-
tein supplement per head daily would be sufficient. If 2 to 3 pounds of
legume hay are fed, the supplement can be reduced to 1 pound per head
per day. Expected gain, 1.5 to 1.7 pounds per head per day.
Ration 2. Full-feed alfalfa haylage and 4 pounds of corn per
head daily. Expected gain, 1.5 to 1.7 pounds per head per day. If hay
is used in place of haylage, the expected gain would be 1.25 to 1.5
pounds per head per day.
Ration 3. Full-feed legume-grass or oat silage, 4 pounds of corn
or oats, and 2 to 3 pounds of legume hay. Add 1 pound of protein sup-
plement per calf daily with oat silage. Expected gain, 1.5 to 1.7 pounds
per head per day.
Rations for Growing or Wintering Heifer Calves
To Get Them Ready for the Finishing Lot
Growing heifer calves can be fed Rations 1, 2, and 3 suggested for
growing steer calves. Expected gain, 1.25 to 1.75 pounds per head per
day. Since heifers tend to finish sooner than steers, they should not be
fed a growing ration after they reach about 600 pounds, although this
weight will vary some with the type of heifer fed. If heifers are kept
on a growing ration too long, they tend to become "cowy" in appearance
by the time they are finished and will be discounted in sale price when
they go to market.
Finishing Rations for Various Classes of Beef Cattle
A finishing ration for any class of cattle usually contains 70 to 90
percent grain (air-dry basis). The following rations could be used for
finishing calves, yearlings, and two-year-old steers as well as for lower
quality cattle fed for a shorter time.
Ration 1. Full-feed dry whole shelled corn, rolled high-moisture
shelled corn, or ground ear corn. The modern approach to finishing
rations is to reduce roughage to 5 to 10 percent of the ration (air-dry
basis). In the final ration, this would mean 5 to 10 pounds per head
daily of corn silage or 1 to 2 pounds of hay. A finishing ration involving
ground ear corn does not need any additional roughage. Add enough
protein supplement to bring the air-dry ration to 11 percent crude pro-
tein for yearling cattle. Recent Illinois research suggests that finishing
calves (500-700 pounds) may need 13 percent crude protein in the
ration. Rate of gain will range from 2.5 to 3 pounds per head daily,
depending on type and class as well as environmental conditions.
Ration 2. Maximize use of corn silage for finishing when the
corn silage is available and cannot be used for growing other cattle.
Add enough protein supplement to make an 11 percent protein ration
(air-dry basis). The rate of gain will be 2.25 to 2.75 pounds per head
daily, near that obtained from rations with more grain, but feed con-
version will not be as good. The ratio of corn silage to grain could be
handled by one of the following methods:
• Start with a full feed of corn silage and add corn at a level of 0.5
percent of bodyweight for the first 30 days. Increase the corn level
by 0.5 percent of bodyweight each month until the cattle are re-
ceiving 2.5 percent of bodyweight daily. Feed corn silage to appetite
as corn allowance is increased.
• Feed 20 or 25 pounds of corn silage and as much corn as the cattle
will consume and still clean up the corn silage.
• Depending on the quality of the cattle and the final degree of finish
desired, feed either 1 or 2 percent of bodyweight as corn and all
the corn silage the cattle will clean up.
Ration 3. Maximize the use of alfalfa haylage for finishing when
the haylage is available and cannot be used for growing other cattle.
Starting with a full feed of haylage, provide corn at 1 percent of body-
weight daily. The corn allowance should be increased 0.5 percent each
month until the cattle receive at least 2 percent of their bodyweight as
grain. No protein supplement is needed unless the ration contains less
than 5 to 7 pounds of roughage on an air-dry basis. Rate of gain will
be similar to that with corn silage rations, 2.25 to 2.75 pounds per day.
Ration 4. Start cattle on self-feeders containing a mixture of 50
percent ground hay and 50 percent shelled corn. The cattle should be
full of hay or other feed before they are given access to the feeder and
should be watched closely at first to see that they find the feed and start
eating. The hay can be reduced to 10 percent of the ration in a month's
time or removed completely with good management. The ration must
be completely mixed. A pelleted supplement is needed with whole
shelled corn. About 5 percent of a 50 percent protein supplement would
balance a mixture of corn and supplement at 11 percent protein. Ex-
pected gain, 2.5 to 3.0 pounds per day.
Handling Feeder Cattle on Pasture
Thin cattle will make the best use of improved nontillable pasture if
grazed without grain feeding. Maximum grass gain or pounds of beef
per acre will result if grain is omitted, but heifer calves should not be
grazed without grain feeding or they may be "cowy" in appearance
when they are finally ready for market.
Plan 1. Pasture without grain for 60 to 100 days. Then full-feed
for 4 to 5 months, preferably in drylot. Start feeding grain as soon as
pasture becomes short or unpalatable as a result of hot, dry weather.
In drylot use Finishing Ration 1. Expected gain, 1.25 to 1.5 pounds
per head per day on pasture; 2.5 to 3.0 pounds per head per day in
Plan 2. Pasture with limited grain for 90 days ; then full-feed
90 to 120 days, preferably in drylot. When on limited grain, feed about
1 pound of grain daily for every 100 pounds of liveweight. No protein
supplement is needed when cattle are on limited grain and good pasture.
In drylot, use Finishing Ration 1. Expected gain: 1.75 to 2 pounds per
head per day on pasture ; 2 to 2.5 pounds per head per day in drylot.
SUGGESTED RATIONS FOR THE BREEDING HERD
Standard Wintering Rations for Beef Cows
Ration 1. A full-feed of legume or mixed hay is a satisfactory
ration for wintering the cow herd. Cows need about 20 pounds or more
per head daily, depending on size and condition of the cows. A cheaper
but adequate ration would be a half-feed of good legume hay and non-
legume roughages, such as straw or cornstalk pasture.
Ration 2. Full-feed legume or legume-grass silage. If it is avail-
able, cows like some dry roughage. At least 3 pounds of hay or straw
per head daily will be adequate.
Ration 3. Feed a limited amount of corn silage (10 to 20 pounds)
per head daily plus a half feed of legume hay.
Ration 4. Feed 10 to 20 pounds of corn silage plus 1 pound of
soybean meal. Feed straw and minerals free-choice.
Ration 5. Feed 20 pounds of grass silage plus straw and minerals
Standard Wintering Rations for Beef Bulls
Herd sires will need 5 to 6 pounds of grain daily in addition to the
roughage rations listed above for cows.
Alternate Wintering Rations for Beef Cows
Ground corncobs, cornstalk pasture, bean pumice, and oat or wheat
straw are examples of the low-quality roughages mentioned in the
following rations. If you have such roughage, these rations will get
your cattle through the winter. If the cattle are very thin, however, it
may be advisable to supplement the roughage rations with some corn.
Ration 1. Feed low-quality roughage free-choice and 2 to 3
pounds of a supplement fortified with minerals and vitamin A.
Ration 2. Feed 5 pounds of good legume hay plus low-quality
roughage free-choice, 1 pound of soybean meal, and minerals free-
Ration 3. Feed low-quality roughage free-choice, 1 pound of
alfalfa meal or pellets, 1 pound of soybean meal, and minerals free-
Ration 4. Feed 10 to 15 pounds of grass silage, low-quality
roughage free-choice, 1/2 pound of soybean meal, and minerals free-
Ration 5. Feed fescue pasture, 1 pound of soybean meal, and
minerals free-choice. If pasture has no green color, feed 1 pound of
alfalfa pellets or add vitamin A to the soybean meal.
APPROXIMATE FEED REQUIREMENTS PER HEAD
Table 4. — Amounts of Feed Required per Head
for Finishing Programs With Corn Silage
Corn Hay S ™** Silage D ^» daily
(bu.) (lb.) ™»* (tons) fa ° r n m gain
Steer calves (450 pounds), to gain
600 pounds 50 600 360 2.5 270 2.2
Heifer calves (400 pounds), to gain
450 pounds 40 500 300 2.0 240 1.9
Yearling steers (700 pounds), to
gain 400 pounds 40 500 225 1.5 160 2.5
Yearling heifers (550 pounds), to
gain 350 pounds 35 500 200 1.25 160 2.2
2-year-old steers (800 pounds'), to
gain 350 pounds 35 300 200 1.50 130 2.7
Table 5. — Amounts of Feed Required per Head
for Finishing Programs With Alfalfa Haylage
r 5 - 5 f° Supple- Days , A X"
Corn moisture FH . 3 daily
/, s , , ment on • J
(b "- ) h gn,f <■■>■> '»- fbl)
Steer calves (450 pounds), to gain 600
pounds 65 2.25 75 a 270 2.2
Heifer calves (400 pounds), to gain 450
pounds 50 1.75 75" 240 1.9
Yearling steers (700 pounds), to gain 400
pounds 50 1 . 25 80 160 2.5
Yearling heifers (550 pounds), to gain 350
pounds 45 1.0 80 160 2.2
2-year-old steers (800 pounds), to gain 350
pounds 45 1.25 65 130 2.7
a Supplement to be fed at the rate of 1/2 pound per day for the last ISO days on feed.
Table 6. — Amounts of Feed Required per Head for Finishing Programs
With High-Concentrate Rations
Corn Hay Su ^ Da y s daily
/u \ /iu \ ment on •
(bu.) (lb.) (lb) farm gam
Steer calves (500 pounds), to gain 500
pounds 60 600 300 200 2.5
Steer calves (600 pounds), to gain 450
pounds 55 500 270 180 2.5
Yearling steers (700 pounds), to gain 400
pounds.. 55 450 200 150 2.7
Yearling heifers (600 pounds), to gain 350
pounds 50 400 150 145 2.4
2-year-old steers (800 pounds), to gain 350
pounds 50 450 150 120 2.9
Table 7. — Nutrient Requirements of Growing and Finishing Cattle
(Daily Nutrients per Animal)
1 331 6.0 .46 3.3
2 331 .55 6.8 .75 4.4
3 331 1.10 7.1 .86 5.1
4 331 1.65 7.1 .95 5.5
5 441 7.3 .57 4.2
6 441 .55 9.9 .99 5.7
7 441 1.10 10.8 1.19 6.8
8 441 1.65 11.0 1.23 7.7
9 661 9.9 .77 5.7
10 661 .55 13.4 1.19 7.7
11 661 1.10 17.0 1.69 9.7
12 661 1.65 17.6 1.96 11.0
13 882 12.3 .97 7.0
14 882 .55 17.0 1.41 9.7
15 882 1.10 21.4 1.89 12.1
16 882 1.65 21.8 1.94 13.9
Finishing Steer Calves
17 331 2.00 7.7 .99 5.9
18 441 2.20 11.0 1.34 8.1
19 661 2.40 15.7 1.91 11.7
20 882 2.40 19.4 2.16 14.3
21 992 2.30 20.7 2.29 15.2
Finishing Yearling Steers
22 551 2.90 15.9 1.76 11.4
23 661 2.90 18.3 2.02 13.2
24 882 2.90 22.7 2.51 16.3
25 1102 2.65 25.4 2.82 18.3
Finishing Two- Year- Old Steers
26 772 3.10 22.7 2.51 16.1
27 882 3.10 24.9 2.75 17.6
28 1102 3.10 29.5 3.28 20.9
29 1213 2.90 30.2 3.34 21.3
Finishing Heifer Calves
30 331 1.80 7.7 .99 5.9
31 441 2.00 11.0 1.34 8.1
32 661 2.20 16.1 1.96 11.9
33 882 2.10 19.2 2.13 14.1
Finishing Yearling Heifers
34 551 2.65 16.8 1.85 12.1
35 661 2.65 19.0 2.09 13.6
36 882 2.65 23.6 2.62 16.9
37 992 2.40 24.3 2.68 17.4
Source: Nutrient Requirements of Beef Cattle, Fourth Revised Edition, 1970. National
Research Council, National Academy of Sciences, Washington, D.C.
Table 8. — Nutrient Requirements of the Breeding Herd
(Daily Nutrients per Animal)
Dry Pregnant Mature Cows
Cows Nursing Calves,
First 3-4 Months After Calving
Bulls, Growth and Maintenance (Moderate Activity)
Source: Nutrient Requirements of Beef Cattle, Fourth Revised Edition, 1970. National
Research Council, National Academy of Sciences, Washington, D.C.
Table 9. — Nutrient Content of Commonly Used Feedstuffs
1 Alfalfa, hay, all analyses 90.5 15.3
2 Alfalfa meal, dehydrated 92 . 7 17.7
3 Bromegrass hay 88.8 10.4
4 Red clover hay, all analyses. . . 88.3 12
5 Clover-timothy hay (30-50%
clover) 88.1 8.6
6 Ladino clover hay 89.5 18.5
7 Corncobs 90.4 2.3
8 Lespedeza hay, in bloom 89.1 13
9 Mixed hay, less than 30%
legumes 89.2 8.8
10 Oat straw 89.8 4.1
11 Soybean hay 88.1 14.6
12 Wheat straw 92.6 3.9
13 Alfalfa, wilted 36.2 6.3
14 Alfalfa haylage 60 10.4
15 Corn, dent, well matured 30.0 2.4
16 Grass silage, including legumes 25.6 3.6
17 Pea vine 24.5 3.2
18 Sorghum, sweet 25.4 1.6
19 Sudan grass 25 . 7 2.2
20 Corn, factory waste 22.4 2
21 Barley 89.4 12.7
22 Corn and cob meal 86.1 7.4
23 Corn, No. 2 85 8.7
24 Cottonseed meal, solvent 91.4 41.6
25 Linseed meal, expeller 90.9 35.3
26 Linseed meal, solvent 90.9 35.1
27 Oats 90.2 12
28 Rye 89.5 12.6
29 Sorghum, milo 89 10.9
30 Soybeans 90 37.9
31 Soybean meal, solvent 89.3 45.8
32 Wheat 89.4 13.5
33 Wheat bran 89.1 16
34 Steamed bone meal 95.2 12.1
35 Di-cal phosphate ...
36 Limestone ...
OTHER PUBLICATIONS ON BEEF CATTLE PRODUCTION
These are available from your county extension adviser, or you can
order from Animal Science Department, 328 Mumford Hall, Univer-
sity of Illinois, Urbana 61801.
Beef Cattle Management Suggestions. Circular 1026.
Beef Report. This is a quarterly review of beef cattle information
coming from the Departments of Animal Science, Agricultural Eco-
nomics, and Agricultural Engineering. Ask your local extension adviser
to place your name on his mailing list.
Urbana, Illinois Revised September, 1972
Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension Work, Acts of May 8 and June 30, 1914,
in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. JOHN B. CLAAR, Director, Coopera-
tive Extension Service, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
12M — 12-70—16034
UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS-URBANA
CIRCULAR URBANA. ILL.
3 0112 019532560